1211 days ago

Recording of Employees

Ronald from

Im a little confused over all the fuss regrading an MP who is said to have monitored and or recorded the conversations of one of his employees without their knowledge.

It is being stated he had committed a crime under the crimes act in doing so, really. It raised a couple of questions for me.

One is: What has he done that isn’t being done all over the country by hundreds of employers in NZ every day of the week?

There are cameras in just about every restaurant, shopping store, bar, clothing store and a multitude of other places all over the nation. You are being recorded every time you get into a bus to go to work and in many cases so is the conversation between you and the driver. Before any one says but you can see those, yes, I know but what about the ones you can’t.

I’ve been involved in IR and ER issues for a long time and can say that employers regularly put covert cameras in to areas they believe people are stealing from or otherwise misappropriating stock, money, goods or whatever.

Once gathered that “evidence” is then put to the targeted employee or employees as a fait accompli. The expectation being that the now trapped employee says, “fair cop guv”, and leaves.

Suppose he or she doesn’t fall on the sword and stays to argue. Now im no lawyer but if the Todd Barclay issue is correct and the “evidence” is obtained surreptitiously and therefor unlawfully how can it be admissible in court or the ERA or wherever you end up.

That being the case then why is there not a que of disgruntled employees, union members, advocates et-al waiting to pursue remedies in mediation or ERA? Why are dozens of employers not facing charges under the crimes act?

Some time ago I was involved in an issue relating to a staff member accused of theft. The accusation was that the staff member was stealing stock (alcohol) from a store room at work as well as other items. The employer acting on their suspicions hired a private detective who installed covert cameras in identified areas and monitored the person’s behaviour over a period of four weeks.

At the end of the period the employee was confronted shown the footage and asked to leave or the police would be called. Personally, I doubt the police would have been interested as the amount of theft if proven wasn’t an eye watering figure. The PI an ex police officer knew this but relied on the camera footage as a strong enough threat to make the person leave. The employee denied any wrongdoing declined to resign and was fired. A complaint of unfair dismissal ensued and it was off to the Employment Relation’s Authority.

The PI gave his evidence spoke to the veracity of the camera footage as proof of theft, said he was astonished that anyone would argue after seeing the footage. The ERA member for their part said they had watched the footage and gave it no weight. It did not show what happed to the goods after removal from the room, it did not show if or what the person removing it had done with it. How did the employer know that the employee wasn’t simply cleaning the room and put the goods back after? Long story short the employer was found to have not completed a full and proper investigation and the employee was awarded several thousand dollars in compensation. Was that employer charged under the crimes act for unlawfully recording a person. No is the answer.

My other question relates to the Barclay incident itself.

Was he present or involved in any of the incidents he recorded, if he has broken no law. You are allowed per the Crimes Act and the Privacy Act to record anything as long you are a party to it.

What was the nature of the breakdown between the employer and employee, how long had it been going on, was it because of him directly or something he inherited when he took over the office? I don’t suppose we will ever know that now as the settlement was confidential.

I would suggest that the only reason it’s an issue at all is because:
(a) He is an MP
(b) Its election year, and what’s an election year without a controversy of some sort
(c) He got caught because she wouldn’t walk away as expected.

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